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By Catherine Epstein

The final Revolutionaries tells a narrative of unwavering political devotion: it follows the lives of German communists around the tumultuous 20th century. sooner than 1945, German communists have been political outcasts within the Weimar Republic and brave resisters in Nazi Germany; additionally they suffered Stalin's nice Purges and struggled via emigration in nations adverse to communism. After global conflict II, they turned leaders of East Germany, the place they ran a dictatorial regime until eventually they have been swept out of strength via the people's revolution of 1989. In a compelling collective biography, Catherine Epstein conveys the hopes, fears, goals, and disappointments of a new release that lived their political dedication. concentrating on 8 contributors, The final Revolutionaries indicates how political ideology drove people's lives. a few of these communists, together with the East German leaders Walter Ulbricht and Erich Honecker, loved nice own luck. yet others, together with the purge sufferers Franz Dahlem and Karl Schirdewan, skilled devastating losses. And, because the e-book demonstrates, girl and Jewish communists confronted their very own units of problems within the stream to which they'd given their all. Drawing on formerly inaccessible assets in addition to wide own interviews, Epstein bargains an extraordinary portrait of the main enduring and influential iteration of critical ecu communists. within the provider in their occasion, those communists skilled cohesion and betrayal, strength and persecution, sacrifice and present, triumph and defeat. immediately sordid and poignant, theirs is the tale of ecu communism--from the heroic pleasure of its early life, to the bureaucratic authoritarianism of its center age, to the sorry debacle of its demise. (20030315)

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Additional resources for The Last Revolutionaries: German Communists and Their Century

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After a divisive battle in December 1920, the majority of the USPD went over to the communists; this was when Dahlem and Ulbricht joined the KPD. 17 After the KPD’s failed uprising in Saxony in March 1921, party membership dropped to 157,613. But in 1923, the year of the Great Inflation, it soared to 294,230. After the Republic began to enjoy a certain stability in the mid-1920s, KPD membership once again dwindled. 18 In 1924, Ruth Fischer and Arkadi Maslow purged alleged “right” supporters of Brandler.

And when he learned that Dahlem shared Leonhard’s politics, Becker sent Dahlem to another firm to finish his apprenticeship. Dahlem thus knew firsthand the hostility aroused by socialist politics in Imperial Germany. When Dahlem had completed his apprenticeship, he followed 18 OUTCASTS Leonhard to Cologne. He now officially joined the SPD and got involved with its youth club. The club’s rooms offered young socialists meeting space and a well-stocked library. Club activities included reading circles, discussion groups, song evenings, and hiking trips.

He tirelessly organized the distribution of fliers, the hanging 22 OUTCASTS of posters, the details of meetings, the editing of newspapers, the collection of funds, and even the procuring of illegal weapons. In June 1921, he was named party leader of Thuringia, where the KPD was both badly divided and poorly organized. In just two short years, Ulbricht was to create a strong regional party organization there. His first trip to Moscow, the center of world revolution, also took place in 1921. Ulbricht was chosen as a delegate to the Fourth World Congress of the Comintern, the Soviet institution that directed the activities of affiliated national communist parties.

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